CCT: Connecticut Arts Hero Awards

Connecticut Arts Hero Awards

The Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA)
created the Connecticut Arts {Small State print} Hero Awards
to honor and celebrate individuals who are doing extraordinary things in, for and through the arts. The first Arts Hero Award was presented in 2016 to COA's grant administrator, Lourdes "Lu" Rivera, who has worked in the state's arts office, through its many name changes and merges, for over 25 years.  In 2018, she celebrated her 30-year anniversary with the arts office!
The Connecticut Arts Hero Awards are presented as part of COA's annual Connecticut Arts Day, an event designed to inform, inspire and celebrate Connecticut's investment in and support of the arts and reaffirm the significant role the arts play in Connecticut.
Connecticut Arts Hereos are presented with a framed print of the original art, Small State, Big Heart, Great Art, which was created by Hartford Prints! for the Connecticut Office of the Arts.
2018 Connecticut Arts Heroes:
  • Kim Stroud of Madison. Kim is a dancer, dance teacher and the Director of the Arts at CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.
  • Shanna Melton of Bridgeport. Shanna is a poet, curator and leader of the Writer's Group based in the City Light's Art Gallery in Bridgeport.
  • Calida Jones of Hartford. Calida a violinist, a violin teacher and the Artistic Director of Bravo Waterbury! at the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra.
  • Dr. Jose Gonzalez of Quaker Hill. Jose is a poet, writer and Professor of English at the US Coast Guard Academy.
  • Mark Aldrich of Newtown. Mark is the Founder of THE GARNER PLAYERS, a playwriting/performance program at Garner Correctional Institute. He produces plays written and performed by inmates through the Theatre Arts & Opportunities Foundation and volunteers at the Alternatives to Violence Project at McDougall, Cheshire and Garner Correctional Institutions.
  • Leslie Elias of West Cornwall. Leslie is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Grumbling Gryphons Traveling Children's Theatre, as well as a published playwright, director, actress, storyteller and teaching artist.
  • Elizabeth Morgan of Middletown. Elizabeth is a youth advocate and a former board member of Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown, where she also served as the volunteer Executive Director. 
  • Mohamad Hafez of New Haven. Mohamed is a Syrian-born artist, architect and Co-Founder of UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage, a multi-media installation that seeks to humanize the word "refugee".
  • Kerri Quirk of Willimantic, with her escort Tom Menard. Kerri is a visual artist and a person with autism who is deaf. Kerri's art is her voice.
2017 Connecticut Arts Heroes:
  • Adam Atkins has taught music at The Gilbert School in Winsted for over 20 years.  He is an educator who is highly dedicated to his students' success and devotes significant time when the school day ends to support his students.
  • Bruce John is the founder of the Breadbox Folk Theatre, a music and open mic venue, which through its concerts has raised over $40,000 to feed individuals and families in need throughout the Windham region and provides funds to off-set the cost of heating the No Freeze shelter in Willimantic.
  • Suzanne Kachmar is a self-proclaimed "Bridgeport Art Lifer".  She is a pioneer and leader in the Bridgeport arts community and creator of the Bridgeport Art Trail, a 4-day celebration of all things creative, cultural and arts-related in Bridgeport.
  • Lynnette Letsky Piombo is a long-time volunteer in the Waterbury arts community, advocating for and participating in a diverse set of arts-related projects, programs and organizations. Fundraising and "fun-raising" are among Lynnette's many attributes.
  • Wendy Black-Nasta is the Founder of Artists for World Peace, a group of artists and activists who promote peace and support some of the world's greatest challenges.
  • Dayna Snell is the Executive Director and co-founder of Queen Anne Nzinga Center in New Britain where she promotes positive youth development among children of all races and abilities.
  • Allison Stockel is an active community participant and supporter of the arts who volunteers her time and expertise to The Ridgefield Playhouse as the Executive Director.  She also supports the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, Ability Beyond Disability and the Keeler Tavern Museum.
  • Joy Supples is an art instructor at the Ella T. Grasso Technical High School in Groton where she has taught studio art since 2005.  She has a steadfast commitment to arts education, public art and community engagement through the arts.  Joy is the Founder of the Connecticut Submarine Trail which raises the profile of the region's military heritage.
  • Aaron Jafferis writes and teaches poetry, spoken word and hip hop to middle and high school students in the City of New Haven, where he organizes two city-wide poetry jams and runs The Word program, which engages hip hop artists to work as teaching artists in the New Haven public school system.